Practice limitations present new challenges for coaches

%22We+are+three+points+away%2C%22+is+what+head+coach+Katie+Falco+said+to+the+team+before+moving+on+to+win+the+match+against+Pittsburg+State+on+Nov.+14%2C+2019+at+Hyland+Arena.+

James Tananan Kamnuedkhun

“We are three points away,” is what head coach Katie Falco said to the team before moving on to win the match against Pittsburg State on Nov. 14, 2019 at Hyland Arena.

Billy Woods, Reporter

Sports are back! 

While a few teams are able to compete this season, most are having to practice in a way like never before while waiting to compete. Teams are now able to have socially distanced practices and non-contact days on the field and court. 

“It’s just been good to have the student athletes back,” women’s lacrosse head coach Jack Cribbin said. “Something is better than nothing.” 

Last spring, the women’s lacrosse team was one of the premier programs in the country, even boasting a number one overall ranking for much of the season. With seniors aplenty, Lindenwood was set to host the national championship in Hunter Stadium, before COVID forced the cancellation of the season and the abrupt end of lacrosse careers. 

“Last year still stings,” Cribbin said, “but we returned some key players from last year.” 

Because of those returning players, the culture and chemistry that was previously established haven’t been affected by the current COVID practice protocols.  

Although the team is outside and on a field, they still can’t scrimmage against one another or be together as a complete team. Instead, the team splits into different 10-person “pods” to work on individual skills like passing and shooting. 

“It’s an opportunity to teach some things and spend time on stuff that we would’ve sped through in the past,” Cribbin said.  

Another team that had their season cut short from the spring cancellations was the women’s basketball team coached by Katie Falco. 

“We’re just excited to have the opportunity to get some workouts in and some sort of normalcy,” Falco said. “It looks different than what we were anticipating and wish we could do more but we’re thankful for what we do get to do. It’s refreshing and the energy our players have is great.” 

Unlike lacrosse, the women’s basketball team is inside. But the protocols remain the same. Coaches are equipped with masks and players are in small groups to work on individual skills.  

“We’re being creative and thinking outside the box,” Falco said, “but we’re still keeping the safety of the players as the main priority.” 

With no contact, the coaches are being creative without the ability to do a practice scrimmage. In an effort to simulate a scrimmage, the coaches use cones and chairs as defenders for their players to practice around.  

Similar to lacrosse, basketball graduated a couple key seniors last spring, but Falco and her staff are confident in the ability of the players to keep the same team chemistry. 

“We invest in each other to build those relationships,” Falco said. “Whether it’s through the phone or Zoom calls, we’ve laid the foundation and we’re in a really good spot because of leadership. Now we’re on the court and we’re able to lead by example. Every player is responsible for that on our team. Our ladies care for one another.” 

During the peak quarantine months, players were without access to the gym. Although coaches don’t necessarily require any particular training from their players, there’s a certain level of trust that the coaches instill within their players to remain in shape and keep getting better. 

The closure of gyms was a concern to men’s soccer head coach Carl Hutter, who talked about a player who used his steps on his back porch to do cardio training.  

Soccer, the same as the other sports, is limited to only 10 players to a group. With no contact practices, the training is more individual focused to work on technical movements.  

“It’s been hard for the students,” Hutter said, “but they want to make it work so we’re trending in the right direction.”  

Hutter described this season as being “us against us”, as Hutter was more focused on his players in the classroom and being prepared for a season next semester. Regardless, the team is being optimistic about the future of the team moving forward. The current plan is to have “some form of a season” in the spring, according to Hutter. But championship competition play will not commence until the fall of 2021. 

“It’ll be a fair playing field,” Hutter said about preparation time for the upcoming season. “Everyone is playing under the same rules and protocols right now. We’re optimistic. Whatever we can do, we’re going to do the best with what we have.”